NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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20/20
by Dennis Ranahan

Derek Anderson will not have time to decorate his house this week for Halloween. That is something he imagined he would be able to do for the first time in a number of years until a couple weeks ago when the Buffalo Bills were desperate for a quarterback and invited Anderson to get off his couch and run their offense.

So, how is that going?

Well, he started last week against a 1 and 5 Indianapolis Colts squad who the bookmakers installed as a touchdown favorite over Buffalo. It wasn’t enough to make the game competitive even from a point spread perspective as Andrew Luck and the Colts hammered the overmatched recent recruit quarterback, 37-5.

That’s right, Anderson couldn’t generate any offense against a defense that yesterday made struggling quarterback Derek Carr look good, although the Colts did get their second straight win, this one on the road, 42-28 over the inept Raiders.

In other words, Anderson was held down by an Indianapolis defense that has allowed more than 30 points in four of their eight outings. In the world of turnarounds, if Buffalo was to be competitive tonight when they host the New England Patriots with Anderson starting his second game, there could be a lot of stiff necks in Buffalo on Tuesday morning from fans twisting in unnatural positions.

Not going to happen.

Right?

Well, this is a Bills team that did upset the Minnesota Vikings in third week action when underdogs by 16½ points at U.S. Bank Stadium. And, a Buffalo defense that came into last week with the third rank defense in the league in terms of yards allowed.

But, then again, there's a reason they are getting 14 points on the spread tonight at home when they host Tom Brady’s team.

They don’t have a chance.

Right?

In the past 20 National Football League seasons a home team has gotten 14 or more points on the spread 20 times. Now that may sound like a perfect 20/20 which could allow us a clear look at this game, but the results don’t crystallize a side on this matchup. The road favorite in those games is 18-2 straight-up, but the underdogs have won 11 of the 20 decisions against the point spread.

The only two teams with spreads this big to win were the Oakland Raiders over the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 and the St. Louis Rams over the New Orleans Saints in 2011. This is the first 14 plus home dog in the NFL since 2013, but six of the past seven games with this big of a spread have been won by the dog at home.

New England waltzes into Buffalo riding a four game winning streak that lifted them from last place in the AFC East Division to the top spot. They are not challenged in their division, the other two AFC East teams have already lost this week, the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night in Houston and the New York Jets yesterday in Chicago.

What that leaves the Patriots to play for tonight is their yearly challenge to get the AFC top seed in the playoffs. That, and their talent, is probably enough to expect New England to come home from Buffalo with their fifth straight win. But, it is not the kind of situation that dictates an automatic blowout. For teams to run up scores, they most often need to be challenged entering the contest.

While Anderson remains the quarterback for the Bills the chances of Buffalo staying within two touchdowns of New England tonight depends totally on the Patriots, and I just don’t see them needing to do anything but churn out a workman type victory. That can result in a win, but not a point spread cover.

Still, the talent gap is just too big to recommend a wager on the home team tonight.